STRANGFORD is to receive a new purpose-build £2.7 million ferry to service the needs of the Portaferry to Strangford route.

Due to arrive at the end of August, the ferry will replace the existing – and smaller - MV Strangford as the main vessel on the busy crossing, following successful completion of trials and staff training.

Once the new vessel arrives, the MV Strangford will assume a standby and support role when the new ferry is being serviced, and will also operate during the peak traffic periods in the summer months.

Up to 260 passengers and crew can be carried on the new MV Portaferry II, which also has the capacity to carry 28 cars and up to 15 metre heavy goods vehicles.

A spokesperson for DRD Roads Service, said: "The significant investment in a new vessel reflects Roads Service’s commitment to ensure the continuation of a safe and reliable ferry service which is so important to social and commercial development in this area."

Ferry Manager, Derek Pedlow, added that he was particularly looking forward to taking delivery of the new vessel. He said: "While the reliability record of the service is good, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the MV Portaferry which is now about 40 years old.”

The Strangford Lough ferry service provides an essential transport link for cars, commercial vehicles and foot passengers across the southern end of the Lough between Portaferry and Strangford. The alternative road journey is approximately 64 kilometres and takes about 70 minutes by car. (CL)

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